Description[Original Art]. Edward Luttrell (Lutterell). Framed Portrait of Unidentified Wigged Gentleman. (Westminster, London). (1680-1720.) Pastel on paper. It is possible that this is a portrait of Sir Archer Croft (1683-1752), son of Sir Herbert Croft. Lutterell did several portraits of him, and ours looks very similar. Provenance: Sir John Clermont Witt's owner stamp on back. Krown & Spellman retail: $2,500. Framed and matted to an overall size of approximately 19.5 x 16 inches. Slight wrinkling and tearing to edges, with possible minor restorations on verso. Light rubbing and bumping to wooden frame. Very good. From the Krown & Spellman Collection.
Luttrell, Edward, crayon portrait painter and engraver, may have been born in Ireland, possibly in Luttrellstown or Dublin. No details of his birth and parentage have been traced, but evidence from Edward Luttrell himself links him to the Luttrell family of Saunton Court, North Devon (see Noon). In 1683 the artist dedicated his manuscript treatise "An epitome of painting" to his "much Honored É Kinswoman Maddam Dorothy Luttrell"; a member of the Saunton Court family, she was the aunt of the diarist Narcissus Luttrell (1657-1732), of whom Edward Luttrell was thus a kinsman (and, probably, a near contemporary).
Luttrell began, possibly about 1670, as a law student at New Inn, London, meanwhile "drawing by practice for his Pleasure", with "no instructor or regular teaching from a Master" (Vertue, Note books, 1.42). "Drawing by practice" presumably prompted Luttrell's crayon adaptations (BM) of etchings by Rembrandt and after other masters. He then gave up law study and became a pupil of the crayon and pastel portrait painter Edmund Ashfield.
Luttrell had the urge to experiment: in Vertue's phrase, he had "a mechanical head". Buckeridge credits him with "multiplying" the range of crayon colours used by Ashfield; more innovatively, Luttrell "found out a method, unknown before, to draw with those chalks or crayons, on copper-plates" (Buckeridge, 355). This method, indirectly derived (according to Vertue's sardonic account) through Luttrell's printseller friend Floyd from an assistant to the Dutch engraver Abraham Blootling (1640-1690), consisted of roughening a copperplate with a rocker (or engraving tool), giving its surface a "tooth" to retain chalks or crayons whose powdery substance had previously demanded fixatives (prone to discolour).
Luttrell's manuscript manual "An epitome of painting, containing breife directions for drawing painting limning and cryoons, wth the choicest receipts for preparing the colours for limning and cryoons, likewise directions for painting on glass, as tis now in use amongst all persons of quality: and lastly, how to lay the ground, and work in mezzo tinto, all by Edward Luttrell, 1683" (34 numbered pages; Yale U. CBA) was compiled for and dedicated to his "Kinswoman" Dorothy Luttrell. Experimentally, Luttrell sometimes added watercolour or gouache to his own crayon portraits.
Luttrell's work in crayon or pastel is uneven in quality. His finest works include a tender portrait of a woman (unidentified, but evidently known to Luttrell) in olive-green headdress and low décolletage, signed in monogram (BM), and a portrait of an unknown man, possibly an artist (Huntington Art Gallery, San Marino, California). Luttrell's flesh tones range from cream, rose, and ginger to light red. His best-known sitter was Samuel Butler, the author of Hudibras (three versions: on oak panel, c.1680, NPG; Bodl. Oxf.; and Yale U. CBA). Luttrell's portraits are almost all of single sitters, bust length; but in 1694 John Evelyn recorded admiration for a group portrait of his cousin George Evelyn's ten children, "all painted É in one piece very well by Mr. Lutterell in Crayons upon copper and seeming to be as finely painted as the best Miniature" (Evelyn, Diary, 5.187). At the other extreme, Vertue mentions "one head as big as life" (Vertue, Note books, 3.12), but this has not been traced. Luttrell's facility for working quickly, "very quick", according to Vertue (ibid., 1.43), produced some scratchy works, perhaps survivals of the "many heads" drawn for the engraver Isaac Becket "to finish & polish them up" (ibid.).
Mezzotint portraits solely by and after Luttrell (few dated) include only two of clerics (Bishop Gilbert Burnet and Francis Higgins, the allegedly seditious archdeacon of Cashel), although such commissions usually provided a steady livelihood for engravers. Less well-known sitters, among them the naval physician Robert Cony, Mrs Marie Helyot (d. 1682), and the amateur draughtsman Francis Le Piper (probably Luttrell's friend as well as his associate in work for Becket), suggest that Luttrell could afford to select subjects for their appeal to him. Vertue records that "Mr. Luttrell thinks his Best head of his doing is Mr. Le Piper" (Vertue, Note books, 1.43). Luttrell engraved two portraits (Lord Shaftesbury and Lord William Russell) after Kneller, and drew various (mostly imaginary) royal portraits for John Vanderbank to engrave for Bishop White Kennett's Compleat History of England (1706).
Luttrell appears to have lived and worked chiefly in Westminster, London. In 1711 he is listed as one of the twelve directors of Kneller's academy in Great Queen Street. The date of his death is not known, but presumably was after 1723, the year in which Vertue lists him among "Living painters of Note in London" (Vertue, Note books, 3.12). Oxford DNB.
Lugt 646a (Witt's owner mark). Art. Portrait. Pastel. Crayon. Painting. Luttrell. Lutterell. Mezotint. Illustrated. Drawing. Painters. Engravings.
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